After more than a decade exploring Central Africa, Hendri Coetzee is a modern legend in the annals of African exploration. He walked nearly a thousand miles of Tanzanian coastline and led the first team down the entire length of the Nile through war-torn Sudan all the way to the Mediterranean. He returned to kayak solo the most difficult section of the river through the densest populations of hippos and crocodiles found anywhere on the planet.
Calling the Nile's source at Lake Victoria home, he was well known and loved by the local people. On the eastern side of the river, they called him Kadoma for his bravery in the face of a river they fear and respect greatly. Along the western bank, locals speaking a different dialect call out the same name, but with a different meaning - Kadoma: the little bee that travels and improves lives everywhere it goes.
Solo on the Congo River in 2009, Hendri received an email from American expedition kayaker Ben Stookesberry. “It would be ludicrous,” Hendri said, “to take an American who you don’t know, and who has never been to Africa, into its very heart.” But a year later, he did just that.
Ben’s long-time kayaking partner, Chris Korbulic, joined the group as Hendri led the way from his home on the Nile overland through Rwanda in order to kayak into the heart of the Congo on a previously unnavigated waterway, the Lukuga River. Seven weeks into the expedition, deep in the DRC, tragedy struck as a monstrous African crocodile silently surfaced and pulled Hendri underwater, never to be seen again.
On Hendri’s final expedition, he takes us on a journey of mind and heart through parts of Africa seldom seen, where his own words will always ring true: “Some of the things that we’re about to witness are so intense and horrible that they should stop the show,” Hendri said, “but they don't. People still laugh and dance. Yes the bad things happen, but so do the good things, the amazing things, and the show goes on.”
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